- Coming close just isn’t good enough in college football - It isn’t good enough in anything. Read through those tales of thiscloses and tell me that some agonizing realizations don’t come to mind? I can think a certain missed field goal or another shot that was never taken or a baseball that was stopped by but a single toe (ask me about it). Anyhow, we’re always so close and we just come back because someday – and I promise you that someday – it’s gonna happen.
- In Conversation with Chris Rock – I always find interviews with comedians to be fascinating. They see the world through such a different lens that whether you agree with them or not, there’s always a very unique perspective. Further, on what’s wrecking comedy, I recently went to New York’s Comedy Cellar; a place Rock discusses extensively. It’s a great place but since I’d last been there (about 5 years ago) the tone had grown in severity. The doormen and wait staff were less patient with the patrons. I don’t need coddling, I’m there for laughs, but if the comedians’ craft is being compromised by small devices with the power to crush material, I get it. No one of Rock’s notoriety appeared while we were there but the comedians were certainly pushing the boundary of appropriate (it was hilarious). Tightening what the patrons can get away with allows them to do that. To get better.
- Titus’ Top 12 NCAA Power Rankings: Guess Who’s Number 1 – Always an entertaining read and it was nice to familiarize with Gonzaga. Read this just to watch the GIF of Kyle Wiltjer celebrating the 2012 Kentucky title.
Tonight’s main event? #8 Wichita State at #25 Utah, the first top-25 game in SLC since 1999. Which naturally means the Pac-12 has an unknown opponent for us to learn about. And who else would we ask to scout the Shockers than…me! Yup, couldn’t track down a Shoxpert so the preeminent Pac-12 blogger will be a momentary Valley critic. Arch Madness. Tip is at 8pm PST, 9pm MST.
So if I were a Wichita State basketball fan and was asked to answer questions about my favorite team – the Shockers, of course – this is how I’d presumably respond. Considering I once dated a girl – now married to someone else – from Kansas, I think this qualifies me. I also once went to Allen Fieldhouse and a friend of mine spent Thanksgiving in Kansas. I kinda have a Judy Garland crush. I could go on.
Nevertheless, those Shockers are headed to the Huntsman Center for a top-25 showdown. Here’s what you need to know about a less familiar WSU, from me, by me: Continue reading
- Journalism professor’s lesson lives on – A Thanksgiving message from Plaschke and a good one. It’s unfortunate that a passing often highlights for us that we didn’t tell those who meant something to us exactly that. Just prior to Thanksgiving we lost my first little league coach and dear friend’s dad. He taught us baseball, the game we’d play into college. He drove us to games and watched me play probably at least one baseball game a year (and many many more than that) from the age of 4-through-19. He was at nearly every practice. Traveling to every tournament he could. Maybe he wasn’t calling the pitches, but he was still Coach Chuck. He’ll be missed.
- How to Get the Biggest Stars in the World to Insult Themselves - I found this article to interestingly not note the Supreme Court’s current hearing of online threats in which Justice Elwood went so far as to cite Eminem during hearings. I imagine Kimmel isn’t having celebrities read their death threats or anything that extreme, but as our digital personas are being drawn out from behind their keyboards by Late Night television hosts, so too is the Supreme Court. Both serve as a warning to think twice before you click ‘send/tweet/post.’
- Pac-12 Burning Questions: Ideal Non-Conference Opponents – In which Andrew leads with: “…Adam Butler could not be contained and, given his dictatorial powers and what-not, he prescribed almost entire non-conference schedules for all of the teams in the conference.”
This week we’re going to hear all about strength of schedule, quality wins, and conversations about who beat whom and by how much. Many conversations about resumes, upset scenarios (and I know all of them), and the human element. Debate. Baylor has hired a PR firm to help bolster the conversation surrounding them. All of which will lead to a Selection Sunday – and we love those.
So while college football is headed to its first playoff, a tournament, for which no one can explicitly prepare, college basketball teams have been playing tournaments all over the world and in front of no one. From Maui to New York to the Bahamas, preseason tourneys (otherwise known as non-exempt events) have filled our November-into-December plates. They are crowded events preparing teams for the sport’s biggest stage.
On this past Sunday night, Washington won the Wooden Legacy tournament!
It maybe wasn’t the biggest tournament (that was Maui with 12) or the sexiest (that was the Battle for Atlantis with 63% of the field holding a national title) but they won. Previous Wooden Legacy winners include:
- 2013 SDSU (Sweet 16)
- 2012 Cal (Second round)
- 2011 St. Louis (Second round)
- 2010 UNLV (First round)
- 2009 West Virginia (Final Four)
- 2008 Wake Forest (Second round)
…and so on. Now winning this tournament most certainly does not guarantee an NCAA invitation. But it seems there is a precedence. Further, and of obvious importance, Washington has been playing improved basketball to win themselves a tournament crown.
A season ago was the worst defensive team Lorenzo Romar has put on a basketball court. By a long shot (or rather by a lot of shots that went in). Thus far, and I know we’re early, but the Huskies are yielding just 94.5 points per 100 possessions which is 10 points fewer than last season. That ranks a relatively pedestrian 62nd in the country, but it’s 10 points per 100 possessions fewer than last season (worth noting: a 94.5 DRtg would’ve ranked 14th last season). All we can ask is that they improve. Through six games, they’ve won a tournament and they’ve improved! The Huskies rank 15th in the country in defensive eFG% (39.4%). The Dawgs are defending!
Individually, I’d like to highlight Shawn Kemp Jr. Last year he was committing 7.2 fouls per forty minutes. That’s comically bad. It’s fouling out nearly two-and-a-half times per contest. This season, however, he’s dropped that number to 3.5 fouls per forty minutes. Consequently he has nearly doubled his minutes played per game and has led the Huskies in scoring three times. He’s averaging 10.3 points and 4.3 boards each night. Needless to say, these are career highs. If we thought the Huskies were missing a low post presence it seems they needn’t look far. They maybe just needed a way to keep him on the floor.
Adding further depth to the front court is big man – and former question mark – Robert Upshaw. He’s working his way into the lineup but when in there, he’s wildly effective. His usage is at 23%, he’s blocking shots at the highest rate in the nation, and he’s absorbing missed shots like Kemp used to absorb illegal contact. I presume he’s working into improved playing shape as he’s seeing minimal court time (just 16.5 mpg) but his high usage and maximal efficiency (119 ORtg) suggest that his presence will soon be more regular.
I could probably go on but so too must the season. We’re early in this thing and we’ve got a Selection Sunday to prepare for. Furthermore, you don’t need me to regurgitate statistics. Just tune into a UW game and you can see for yourself – they look like a much improved team. Nigel Williams-Goss can create; Jernard Jarreau is a healthy weapon; Andrew Andrews has the same name twice; and Donaven Dorsey is in a nice situation by which to develop and contribute.
So let’s be clear: There’s reason for optimism in Seattle and not just because of recruiting. These Dawgs are tournament champions.
- Hope and dreams of a small town team – It’s always hard to rationalize why all of this matters. Does it really matter? I don’t think it does. But it has to because we keep coming back and people keep telling beautiful stories like this one about having a team to root for and strangers to follow because it meant ignoring the sunset or embracing your dad.
- Kentucky stifles Providence 58-38, could this be the season of defense? - It’s a great question especially considering last season was an historically offensive season with the new rules changes. In researching an article posting later today, I found that Lorenzo Romar’s team is allowing just 94.5 points per 100 possessions. Last season that number would’ve ranked them 14th in the country. This season? 62nd. Let’s keep an eye on this trend.
- Why your family drives you crazy - Put into the context of sport, think about how you perhaps shout at the television when your team does something positive or negative? Are you more reserved with compliments for your own squad? Quicker to criticize? Anyhow, I’m always going to take my team and my family over most anything else. As big of a jerk as I might be to ‘em.
And on this side of the break I hope you find yourselves thankful, that you had a better homecoming than Chasson Randle (like seriously, Stanford, you promise the kid two homecoming games and manage a 1-1 record and yield 1.19 per possession to DePaul who was wearing a home loss to Lehigh) and that your team won the Pac-12 South because – let me tell you – that’s fun. See you in Santa Clara.
Which of course means that football is winding down, heading into its long winter before reemerging at the turn of the year to give it their best, and first, shot at a March. Basketball will soon becomes our primary collegiate focus; when familiar foes travel to familiar venues and the grind. Eighteen conference games of unpredictability. Vegas. Selection Sunday. The weekends. A football stadium. Continue reading
Oregon lost to Michigan on Monday night as I continued to pretend that the ‘random’ program on level 15 of the LifeCycle would suffice for a workout. And while you’re maybe not impressed with my workout regimen, I was impressed with Oregon in the battle of Nike vs. Adidas; the battle of Yellows.
Let’s talk about why. Continue reading
- On Being Humbled - You ever think things are working out like this and they wind up like that? And that isn’t remotely close to where you want it to be. It knocks you perhaps down a peg, begging you to reexamine relationships and trust because that is just so far away from what this was going to be? Have you ever been humbled? I know I have. And more recently, good friend Luc had such experiences and has had the self awareness to write about it and learn from it. I’m team Luc (also he’s a helluva hoops mind).
- After 15 long years, UA relevant again - Arizona football has, by and large, sucked. We hired John Mackovic and had the entire team bypass the Athletic Director, marching right into the school president’s office, and ask for his firing. At one point – and I paraphrase this stat – Arizona was one of three BCS-level schools during the BCS era, to not go to a bowl game. Any bowl game. Ineptitude from 1998-2008. So yeah, 9-2 is something. And you’re not going to talk me off my stance that there’s a fighter’s chance at the playoff. It’s far fetched. Outlandish even (although FiveThiryEight isn’t against it). But that’s what happens after 15-years of being irrelevant and losing four Elite Eight games by 7 points (and another by 26). This is fun.
- An ‘Interstellar’ Explainer: What are bulk beings? – Remember how felt when ‘Interstellar’ ended? That’s how you’ll feel after this article. If you can explain it in even lay-er of lay terms, holler atcha boy.
- Great Scott! - I could tell you a lot about this article…but I wrote it. So if you want my thoughts on what I wrote you should just read it (of note – I contribute weekly over at All Buffs, a high quality forum for all things CU)
- Derrick Rose Does Not Belong to You – First of all, I love this title. Secondly, I love this column. Thirdly, is it just me or has The Cauldron been pretty hit-or-miss? Let’s revisit these thoughts sequentially now that they’re out there. (1) It’s just a really good, and true title. (2) We do revere our athletes and our heroes for overcoming personal strife to win. In Rose’s case it’s repeated injury and it now seems he’s being turned on for looking out for number one. The author hits on a terrific and NBA-centric parallel (Sterling) but doesn’t bother to go down the hypocrisy of criticizing Rose and simultaneously criticizing the NFL for not caring for its players enough. (3) I just don’t regularly find myself enjoying what I find or read on there. It just seems to be lacking a je no sais quois which is exactly what good content tends to have.
- Things I’ll Teach My First Kid – I’m not remotely close to this. I mean, one time I dated a girl for 3.5 years and then another time I thought really hard about the L-word and on a daily basis I market to expecting families but this. Like what fuckups are we that we then get to teach another person how not to be one, only to know that they’re going to be one, and then hold them when they cry about it? Maybe that’s parenthood? I don’t know. But someday I’m excited to find out. In the meantime, please excuse my empty fridge and the weekend.
- USC v UCLA – A Smack Talk Suggestion – Zach calls himself “hell with a pen” and he doesn’t let us down here. Unless of course you’re a UCLA fan in which you’re not only let down but you’re pissed off. Which is probably exactly what he wants. And now he’s telling you he’s not going to respond which, in turn, will only further upset you. Hell with a pen, indeed.
- Sorry, Travis, but I’m boycotting Uber – Interesting Op/Ed here on boycotting the insanely convenient car service. This whole case (shockingly being called #ubergate – which is interesting in its own right as we can evolve to using hashtags for everything but can’t move past a 70s political scandal for naming even the most nominal of upsets) raises some very interesting topics. How much will we tolerate for convenience? Or in other instances fandom? In the case of Uber, there’s reported misogynism and now the threat of manipulating the press as well as their competition. The author is choosing to let Uber know of his discontent by hitting them in the pocket book. The same could perhaps be done to the NFL where their morale compass has seemingly been sitting on a magnet. There’s a reason things like Uber and the NFL are wildly popular. In some regard they hold power over us. But at the same time, the masses provided that power. If you disapprove, you can do something about it.
- NCAA mulling copying college football mid-season seed TV show idea – I’m with Norlander here and I’m not a big fan of starting a weekly show in January in which the committee reveals some version of the brackets. But I also don’t fully get the swift outrage to the idea. Yesterday we talked about exhausting narratives, derived discussions of what we think should be. In some regard, firing up a weekly bracket would allow us to talk about some pretty tangible stuff. These are the 64 best right now. But ultimately it would just be a glorified Bracketology. My biggest gripe with the football rankings is that it’s an attention suck in the middle of the week and forces networks to promote some really tardy rankings on the teasers for the coming Saturday for three days (Sun-Tues). I don’t like the idea, but I wouldn’t be outraged if it happened.